A Visit With
New Folks In Old Mastic
1920's Hammond Road Map
A road map like this one could of come in handy when I paid a visit to Jo Ann and Phillip Strong at their home in "Old Mastic" last August 2004. Not that my driver Kenny Vitellaro or myself were strangers to the area now dubbed by realtors and it's own home owners association as Old Mastic. We were probably the oldest Masticians in the area that day.Two guys who remember when it was just called The Dana Estate another misnomer for the whole area , but probably a lot more accurate than the term "Old Mastic"
It's a name that seems to chafe at Kenny's craw much more than it does mine, but perhaps it's because he still lives in the Mastics and I do not? And to quote him " Tell me where new Mastic is? There is no such place..... its all Old and it is all just MASTIC!" And he is right in the sense that all of Mastic is quite old, harking back to pre revolutionary war colonial days. I kid him and say well at least they didn't add a tacky e on the end of Old.
Ye Olde Welcome Mat
Though it's probably not what William Buck Dana or his grandson William Shepherd Dana or the even Ella Marian Dana (W.S's widow) the last Dana to live there envisioned for their property and that of the property they gave to their friends and estate workers, perhaps if these gates were up in 1969 Moss Lots might still be standing.
A brief history (it has been dealt with in depth on this website) for the sake of this page. The area now known as the Old Mastic was originally part of the William Floyd Estate. In the 1880's a lawyer named William Buck Dana who was the son in law of William's grandson John G. Floyd worked out an agreement to divide up the Floyd estate among John G's five children. Besides John G. Floyd Jr (who occupied the William Floyd homestead portion and was Dana's business partner ) August and Nicoll Floyd had large homes and lived there just north of the William Floyd property as did the Danas.
The Dana family were the last ones living there and so that area (other than the William Floyd part ) became known among the other residents of Mastic as The Dana Estate from about 1930's - 1960s. Some time later in the 1980's it was designated as an historic district and given the name Old Mastic. At one time the Danas alone had 24 people working on their estate and many built small cottages all over. This led to a labyrinth of dirt roads that criss crossed all over and turned up as a lot of scribble on many maps from the 1880's-1940's. Many of these roads are still there which leads us back to August 2004 and my visit to the Strongs.
I received an e mail from Jo Ann Strong about a month before I was coming back up to the area. She initially wrote to say how much she was enjoying learning the areas history from the website and that she and her husband bought one of the Dana estate cottages around a year ago. When she heard of my upcoming trip an invitation was extended to visit them. The Strong cottage on Private road is located on the north side of Lons Creek. Kenny and I decided to take the long way in from Riverside Ave passing by the original Dana Gatehouse and the land where Dana's huge victorian mansion known as Moss Lot's once stood proud. (It was destroyed by arsonists around 1970) As we headed into the laybrinth of roads through the woods we soon hit a dead end. Deciding to turn around and go back to using Jo Ann's directions we soon noticed someone pulling out of a driveway had taken an interest in us. As we paused for a minute by the woods that has grown up where Moss Lots once stood so I could get a picture, the driver pulled along side of us , stopped and her first words uttered rather tersley were. CAN I HELP YOU AND DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY......that's all it took to set Kenny off... YES WE DO KNOW AND WE ALSO KNOW WHO'S PROPERTY IT ONCE WAS..DO YOU? and the two of them started in arguing.... She also seemed concerned that I had a camera in my hand and said sternly " I do not want my house photographed." I was basically trying to ignore her, but then told her I had no interest in photographing her house, but rather the woods along side of her house where "A FAR GRANDER HOME THAN HERS ONCE STOOD. I then added that we were in the area at the invitation of one of the residents. That seemed to semi- placate her and we drove on our merry way. But Kenny said "I bet you she calls the cops on us" and he kept fuming about her attitude. Although I can understand her zeal to be a neighborhood watchperson or whatever, I could also understand Kenny's frustration at being looked upon as someone who is an outsider. As for myself...well Clark Gable's classic line from Gone With The Wind seemed appropiate ..... "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn"....
SAME SPOT 94 YEARS EARLIER
Needless to say we arrived on time and had a very pleasent visit with the The Strongs
This was the cottage Lorena Hickock (Eleanor Roosevelt's secretary) vacationed in in the 1930's. It is also where Ella Dana
stayed after she closed up Moss Lots in the 1960's
The rear wing is not original to the house
Several Floyd family photos were in the house when the Strong's purchased it, as was this portrait of
At the Back Of The House This Boardwalk Leads To Lon's Creek
Here's Phil Heading Down To The Creek
Lons Creek is one of three creeks that lead out to Forge River from the original Floyd Estate